Kary Bosma on Jubilee Fellows Summer Internships

Kary Bosma coordinates Jubilee Fellows, a Calvin College summer internship for students considering pastoral ministry.

Kary Bosma coordinates Jubilee Fellows, a Calvin College summer internship for students considering pastoral ministry. Each summer Bosma and Jubilee Fellows co-directors Dale Cooper and Todd Cioffi divide visits among 12 interns. 

Kary Bosma

Will you describe a typical visit?

We try to visit during weeks four or five of their ten-week internships, so we need to coordinate timing along with geography. A program representative visits an internship site for one or two days, enough time to discuss everything, including living with their host family and daily routines. We talk most about their internship. They make goals with their supervisor when the internship begins and complete a mid-point report to evaluate how well they are accomplishing their goals. We discuss how their work so far has impacted his or her sense of calling to ministry.

What challenges do Jubilee Fellows experience?

We talk about how the student is maintaining her relationship with God in the midst of serving him. We discuss what has surprised them about working in ministry. We also talk candidly about any difficulties, whether personal struggles or in work or with their supervisor or host family.

We meet with the student's mentor and any other church staff working closely with the student. It's an opportunity for them to speak honestly about the student's performance and express concerns. We express our gratitude for their mentoring our student.

How do these summer internships affect Jubilee Fellows?

Most come away with a new understanding of and appreciation for the daily work of church ministry. Students are often given opportunities to work in their interest areas, such as teaching, youth, and worship. They’re challenged to participate in areas they aren't aware of or don't feel particularly gifted in, such as administration, children, and pastoral care. They often express surprise at all the behind-the-scenes work that happens daily or weekly. They find that, besides preaching on Sunday, a pastor may lead a funeral, make pastoral care visits, attend a worship planning meeting, fold bulletins, and manage church finances. A church educator planning for vacation Bible school must choose curriculum, plan activities and crafts, market the program to members and the community, recruit and coordinate volunteers, purchase snacks, and decorate the church basement.

Often students approach the summer hoping for affirmation about what career path to follow. Sometimes they expect to find the final answer to "Might God be calling me to a vocation in church ministry?" What often actually happens is they spend the summer learning more about themselves: how God has equipped them, which ministry areas best use their gifts, and how to improve in areas of weakness. Mentors reflect weekly with students on how their experiences are effecting or affecting their calling. Mentors affirm their gifts and challenge them when appropriate.  

Why do churches continue or stop hosting Jubilee Fellows?

Congregations and mentors are often eager to welcome future Jubilee Fellows after their initial experience. They are usually pleased with the work done and student quality. It is a unique opportunity for churches to gain a highly motivated, thoughtful intern as part of a well-organized and established program...at no financial cost to the church. Several congregations host students year after year, because their staff and congregations are committed to mentoring future church leaders. Mentoring takes significant time and energy for the mentoring pastor, church staff, host family, and congregation. Not all churches are able to sustain an intern every year. Pastoral sabbaticals, retirements, or changing leadership may prevent churches from hosting another Jubilee Fellow. 

Churches often want to host a Jubilee Fellow, but I don't have enough students to send out! As our network of internship churches expands—this year eight of our students are at new internship sites— we are blessed with the task of connecting each student with the church that best suits their vocational interests. I work with pastors at each potential site to determine the best fit. We prayerfully determine which churches will receive a Jubilee Fellow and which will have to wait.

As you look back on the years of Jubilee Fellows, how many have gone on to seminary or a church-related job?

Around 75 percent of former Jubilee Fellows have gone on to seminary or to serve in ministry-related fields, such as unordained church ministry, parachurch organizations, and missions.

 

The Jubilee Fellows program is part of Calvin College's Congregational and Ministry Studies (CMS) department. Read about CMS throughstudents ' eyes.

 

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